Legacy Biomass Law Takes Effect

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Legislation to amend the Clean Energy Initiative will take effect today and the bill’s prime sponsor says it represents a compromise which safeguards the environment and rural jobs.

“Legacy biomass is as much about protecting jobs as it is about protecting the environment,” said Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, chair of the Senate Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development committee.

In passing this bill and signing it into law, the Legislature and the governor recognized that you can advance clean energy without eliminating hundreds of jobs that have been the lifeblood in small Washington communities for decades. - Brian Hatfield

Senate Bill 5575 will allow biomass facilities in operation before March 31, 1999, to qualify as eligible for renewable energy credits. Until now, facilities built before that date have been unable to sell the biomass energy generated in their power plants as renewable energy, putting them at a significant disadvantage. SB 5575 also adds organic by-products of pulping and the wood manufacturing process, known as black liquor, to the definition of biomass.

19th District Legislators to Hold Tele-Town Hall Meeting

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Residents of the 19th Legislative District will soon have the chance to ask their legislative members questions without leaving their homes.
On the evening of April 17th, Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, Rep. Dean Takko, D-Longview, and Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, will take part in a telephone town hall meeting. Residents of the district will receive a phone call at or around 6 p.m., asking if they would like to participate in the live event. Those who do will have the chance to join thousands of their fellow constituents in directly asking the members questions or sharing concerns they have for the 19th District and the state.
Constituents should receive a phone call inviting them to take part at around 6 p.m. Anyone who does not receive a call may participate by calling 1-877-229-8493 and enter the PIN number 18646 when prompted.

New Education Resource For Grays Harbor and Pacific County’s Aspiring Teachers Comes Online

Grays Harbor, Wash. — City University of Seattle will offer aspiring teachers in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties a unique opportunity to study locally for their Bachelor of Arts in Education this summer. Students who have earned or are nearly finished with an associate degree may enroll now in program classes on the Grays Harbor College (GHC) campus.


“In light of ongoing state budget cuts to higher education, I’m delighted CityU of Seattle’s Albright School of Education (ASOE) will be able to provide an accommodating and affordable solution for students in and around Grays Harbor. This new partnership also will allow students the opportunity to develop their specialty skills in high needs areas,” said CityU President Lee Gorsuch.

Attorney General launches 2011 legislation

OLYMPIA – Legislators from both parties joined Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna today to announce proposals to save money, protect the vulnerable and make government more accountable.


“People depend on us to solve problems,” McKenna said. “We’re proud to work with legislators from both sides of the aisle who are as determined as we are to make our streets safer, and to make state government leaner and more accountable.”

The Attorney General's Office and the State Auditor's Office’s Open Government Task Force recommend the creation of an administrative board to rule on complaints of violations of the Public Records Act (PRA) and the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). Legislation sponsored by Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, creates the Office of Public Records within the Office of Administrative Hearings. 

“It’s our hope that this pilot program will expand in the years to come, broadening access to government information,” McKenna said. “It will also prevent expensive lawsuits over the denial of records.”


McKenna also proposes two bills specifically targeted to save money by preventing lawsuits concerning open government matters. One bill, sponsored by Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, and others, requires records requesters seeking court penalties to first notify a government agency of their intent to file a lawsuit over denied records.


The other bill, sponsored by Rep. Deb Eddy, D-Kirkland, provides a one-year statute of limitations for suing over denied records.

Commissioners Approve Coal Export Facility in Washington State

Kelso, WA — The Cowlitz County Commission put its rubber stamp on a plan today that allows an Australia-based company to establish a coal export terminal in Longview, WA.

The commissioners, by a 3-0 vote, granted a permit to allow the coal exporting facility on waterfront land in Longview without a full analysis of its potentially significant effects on people and the environment. Approval of the permit was given despite a lack of fundamental scientific information.

“As a local businessman I am disappointed by the commissioners' decision today,” said Stanley Florek, Chief Executive Officer of Tangerine Power. “I want to see Cowlitz County creating manufacturing jobs for 21st century industries, like clean energy, not exporting dirty resources. Tying up our waterfront properties to ship coal to China is a step in the wrong direction, for our economy and our environment.”

Volunteers needed to count bicyclists and pedestrians for annual statewide survey

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Volunteers are needed in communities across the state to help count the number of people who walk or bike to their destinations. The information gathered this fall will be used to track progress toward the state’s goal of increasing bicycling and walking in Washington and reducing the number of vehicle miles driven.


The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Cascade Bicycle Club are enlisting volunteers and organizations like FeetFirst and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington to count the numbers of people bicycling and walking on paths, bike lanes, sidewalks, and other facilities on Oct. 5, 6 and 7.


“We are working on ways to reduce the number of miles we drive each year, and counting bicyclists and pedestrians at specific locations can help us more accurately measure demand and the benefits of existing paths and trails,” said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “The counts also help us identify where future bicycle and pedestrian facilities are needed.”

AG’s public safety and consumer protection bills to be heard this week

SB 6202 would provide new protections for vulnerable adults. The bill will be heard by the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee at 10 a.m. today in the John O’Brien Building, Hearing Room E. The bill is sponsored by Sen. James Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, and co-sponsored by Sen. Janéa Holmquist, R-Moses Lake, among others.


ESHB 2427 would require longer sentences for repeat, felony domestic abusers. The bill, prime-sponsored by Rep. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m. today in the J.A. Cherberg Building, Senate Hearing Room 1.


ESHB 2424 would give law enforcement an additional tool to prosecute those who intentionally access child pornography. The bill, prime-sponsored by Rep. Al O’Brien, D-Seattle, will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the J.A. Cherberg Building, Senate Hearing Room 1.

McKenna plans to take action to protect victims of state’s most dangerous criminals

OLYMPIA — When shocking crimes are committed by repeat offenders, members of the public often ask elected officials why they didn’t do more to keep those criminals off the streets.
 “We know there are ticking time bombs out there, just waiting to go off,” said Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna. “Local police and prosecutors know the identities of many of the worst repeat abusers. Today we’re asking the Legislature to allow the authorities to bring them to justice.”
The attorney general’s domestic violence bill was among those previewed at a press conference Monday. Just as the law gives extra penalties to serial car thieves and drug dealers, McKenna’s proposal clamps down on repeat domestic abusers. The legislation targets abusers who graduate to felony abuse, which often involves firearms or other deadly weapons.

School Rivalry Turns Into School Bus Vandalism

HOQUIAM, Wash. - On Tuesday evening, December 29, 2009 at approximately 10pm, Hoquiam officers were dispatched to a call of reported ‘shots fired’ at a Longview school bus parked at McDonald’s in the 2500 block of Simpson Ave. One window to the school bus had been damaged and four males were observed fleeing the scene in a newer, black colored car.
According to the bus driver, prior to the incident four young males were apparently in the parking lot attempting to taunt the Longview students who were inside the restaurant. When no one inside paid them any attention, two of the suspects walked across the street to where the black car was parked while two other suspects walked past the bus on Simpson Ave.

BPA eliminates four route segments on proposed I-5 corridor reinforcement

Portland, Ore. - After several months of study, the Bonneville Power Administration has determined it will no longer consider four of the 52 potential route segments for its proposed I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project between the Castle Rock, Wash., area and Troutdale, Ore. The segments no longer being considered stretch from northeast of Amboy, Wash., to northwest of Camas, Wash.

The four segments are identified as segments 27, 31, 42 and 44 on the I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project map.

“Though the four segments we were considering follow an existing transmission right-of-way, they just are not the right fit for a 500-kilovolt power line,” said Mark Korsness, BPA project manager. “Other segments currently under consideration either already have a BPA line on an existing right-of-way or allow for wider study corridors in less populated areas.”